How to Become a Teacher

What is a teacher?

become a teacherThis is a professional who facilitates and promotes learning among a group of students. Some who work as a teacher have specialized titles like an art teacher, science teacher, English teacher, etc. They may also specialize in a particular grade like pre-school teacher, first grade teacher, tenth grade teacher, etc. Teachers have always had a critical role in society and still do today. If there were no teachers it could be extremely difficult for people to learn the skills that they need to survive in today’s society. In times past, there might be one teacher for multiple grades thus coining the phrase “one room school house.” It was a profession that was mostly held by women in the wild, wild west. At that time in history a teacher had very strict rules that they had to follow like not being allowed to be married while being a teacher. They were often called school marms at that time but times have changed.

In the past they concentrated more on the basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic. School then revolved around the crops because the older children were needed at home to help bring in the crops, which were a family’s main source of income and the way they survived the winter. Today the school year is approximately nine and a half months while some go year around. If you are a teacher today it is much easier as you only have to teach one grade and/or one subject. The salary is much better than in the past because many times they received little or no pay except housing. If they were paid it was around a $100 a month, which was a lot back then. Many times it was whatever the town or town council could afford to pay.

Career information

As a teacher today, in addition to teaching academic instructions like science, social studies, math, and so forth, you may also be responsible for their student’s life and social skills. In some high schools are taught how to manage their finances, search for employment, or how to engage in a healthy relationship. To be effective the teacher will also need a variety of other skills. They need to have the ability to effectively communicate with their students because it is irrelevant how much knowledge the teacher has to share with their students if they cannot share it with the students or does know how to get the information across to their students. A teacher also needs to know how to motivate their students to learn the material that they are trying to teach them.

As a teacher you will also need to be able to assess the needs of their students and understand and realize that not all students learn at the same pace or with the same means. Some may be a visual learner while others may be an oral learner. Some students may have a learning disability so a teacher has to adjust their ways of teaching to match their students.

The types of teaching positions that are available today tend to mirror society’s development like the teachers that are in high demand at the beginning of the 21st century are internet teachers/instructors. You will need to have a good knowledge of the computer because that is part of the curriculum in today’s schools. Another type of teacher today is called the virtual teacher who teaches at online schools. Some schools in larger cities deal with a lot of drugs and students that are unruly so that teacher has to be not only a teacher but also a monitor and peace maker in their classroom. In the future it may be that there will be no more schools and all learning is done online in virtual schools. If you decide to become a teacher you need to be ready to grow with the times and be very adaptable.

Reasons to be a teacher

The number one reason to be a teacher is the love you have for children and the desire to see them succeed after graduation. Other reasons to become a teacher can include:

  • Having a teacher that was an inspiration and made you want to be a teacher
  • It is a job where you will never be bored as each day is different
  • Wanting to share your passion of learning with others
  • Working Monday thru Friday
  • Getting the summer months off
  • Getting a solid paycheck
  • If you have children you will not need a babysitter because you will be home when your child is
  • Reasonable workday hours
  • Job security
  • Having the ability to influence students in a good way and help them grow
  • The love of teaching

Required skills to become a teacher

There are so many skills that a teacher needs that it is impossible to list them all but here are some of the more important skills.

  • Needing the academic knowledge to teach the subject matter you are teaching but if you are an elementary teacher, grades first thru sixth, you will have to knowledge about a variety of subjects,
  • They must understand their students learning styles, abilities, and needs
  • They must have the ability to make difficult concepts understandable for every student in their class.
  • Should be oriented toward help others
  • You should have an engaging and pleasant personality that will help the students focused on what is being taught.
  • Having patience if you are working with those with learning difficulties, younger students, or unruly students
  • Being able to work as a team with other teachers, parent-teacher organizations, the administration, and support staff
  • Have great organizational skills, which includes having the next day’s lessons and what is needed to teach that lesson ready, keep papers organize, etc
  • Keeping papers graded in a timely manner
  • Need to be creative to keep the students interested in what is being taught.

How long does it take to become a teacher?

How long it will take you to become a teacher depends mainly on which degree you are pursuing. For a bachelor’s degree it normally takes 4 years if you are going full time but it will take longer if going part-time. You will also need to do a student internship but how long that will be depends on the grade and the school. It could be 3, 6, or 12 months. Once you have completed your student internship you can get your license and apply for a job or you could go for your master’s degree. This adds another 2 years, more if you only go part time.

How to become a teacher?

If you decide that you want to teach preschool you must have at least a high school diploma or GED but if you want to teach higher grades, even kindergarten, you have to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Education along with teacher certification. In order to receive your teacher’s license you have to complete an approved teaching program. When you become licensed you will be qualified to teach a specific subject or a range of grades. If you are planning to teach in a private school you are generally not required to be licensed or certified but most of the private teachers do have a Bachelor’s degree. If you want to become a teacher in post-secondary schools you will typically need a doctoral degree.

After getting your high school diploma or GED you need to enroll in college to get your bachelor’s degree. What you will be studying will depend on the grade and subject you want to teach. Getting a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education will allow you to work with k-4th grades, a middle education program will allow you to work with 5th -7th grade, and a secondary education program will allow you to teach 8th grade and up. Most of the secondary and middle education programs will provide you with the basic in education and require that you select a field in which to teach. These fields are English, math, social studies (history),, and science. There are also more specialize subjects that you can choose from. Once you know your specialized subject and the education basics you will be ready to do your classroom internship.

When doing your classroom internship you will begin by watching the primary teacher, slowing gaining more responsibility by teaching some of the class. This internship is important practice for your teaching career. No matter which state you are going to be a teacher in you will need a license in order to teach. This internship will likely be one of the licensing requirements by your state board of education. Some states use the Praxis series tests that are administered by the Educational Testing Service as one of their licensing requirements. The exam will test you on your knowledge on literacy, math, and your specialized subject.

At some point after teaching there are some states that will require you to earn your master’s degree. With this degree you can study the basic education that you could have not taken in a bachelor’s degree program that was not educational related. You may also meet the eligibility requires that you did not complete in your undergraduate studies, like your student internship. If you are already licensed and working as a teacher having a master’s degree may help you earn additional responsibilities and pay raises. If you want to work as a college professor you will have to have a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) degree.

When you apply for your teaching license you can get them through the state boards of education and are divided into categories. These categories include early childhood, middle education, elementary education, and secondary education along with special subjects like music or reading. The licensing requirements vary by state but all public school teachers must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Although the completion of a teacher education program can make getting a license easier but in many states there are alternative licensing options with a bachelor’s degree in other subject areas. All states generally require the teacher to take an exam on their subject area. They may also be required to complete professional development classes regularly to keep their licenses. A private school is generally exempt from the state-mandated requirements for licensing but depending on the school the teachers in a private school will most likely need a bachelor’s degree to be hired.

You can also pursue National Certification but this is voluntary. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) provides various separate certifications. These certificates are valid for 10 years and covers various subjects for the teachers of young adults and children. They are recognized nationally.


There are many different colleges where you can get your associate, bachelors and master’s degree. You can check with the local colleges in your town or state to find one that meets your needs. With some schools you can get your bachelor’s degree and go on to get your master’s degree. You should check to see if the education program you are considering is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

Teacher Salary

As of January 2017, the median annual salary for preschool teachers was $43,000, elementary teachers was $54,000, and for post-secondary teacher was $72,000. In addition to the salary there is also the bonus package, which can include paid vacation and sick days, paid holidays off, including a two week winter break and a week spring break, profit sharing, retirement plans, health insurance that may cover the family, life insurance, 401K, and more. Since a teacher has the summer months off whether it is pay or not depends on the state and school system. Some will allow their teachers to spread their yearly salary over 12 months so they will still be paid in the summer but will be off to enjoy the vacation. If the teacher is paid hourly they may either take off the summer unpaid and have no income until school resumes or they take a part time summer job.

Teacher Job outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) preschool teachers can expect to have an increase growth of 7% between the ears of 2014-2024. For the same range of time elementary teachers can expect to have an increase growth of 6%, and postsecondary teachers would have an increase growth of 13%.

Similar – related jobs

  • Preschool teacher—the requirements to become a preschool teacher varies by employer, state, and source of funding for the program. This is the teacher that teaches students before they go into kindergarten. Some of the programs only require a high school diploma or an associate degree but most will require that you have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or child development. Some will also require a national Child Development (CDA)
  • Kindergarten and elementary teacher—these teachers must have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. The license will allow a teacher to teach k-6th grade in most states. Teachers in the future must also complete a student teaching internship or supervised practicum. Some states will require that the teacher earn a master’s degree with in a specific time after they start to teach.
  • Middle school teacher—they must also have a bachelor’s degree in childhood education along with completing a student teaching internship. Having a middle school license it allows them to teach grades 5th-8th but you must also have a certain number of credit hours in the subject area they want to teach. The subject area may be indicated as an endorsement on the teaching certificate with areas of endorsement like math, physical education, math, etc.
  • Secondary teacher—these teachers needs a bachelor’s degree in the subject they are going to teach. They also need to have completed a program of study in secondary education. Their teaching license qualifies them to teach up through 12th Some high schools may look for a teacher with a master’s degree. High schools will hire teachers in the fine and applied art and in core academic areas.
  • Postsecondary teacher—if these teachers teach at a 4-year college or university they will usually need a doctoral degree in the subject they want to teach. Colleges and universities will sometimes hire a teacher with a master’s degree for a part-time position. For most full-time positions a community college requires a master’s degree. Technical and vocational colleges will require for you to have a bachelor’s degree in the subject you are going to teach.
  • Remedial teacher—this is the teacher who teaches students who, for a variety of reasons, are below their grade level in one or more of their core subjects. In some school districts they are also referred to as special education teachers. In a college setting they may be referred to as adult education teachers. Exactly what this teacher does will depend on the subjects and population.
  • Substitute teacher—this is the teacher who teaches the class when the regular teacher is out due to sickness, emergencies, pregnancy, etc. They may work 1 day in the classroom or it could be 7 or more days, especially if it is for a maternity leave.
  • Teacher assistant—this is a teacher that helps the regular teacher in class. She can help teach the class, assist the regular teacher how she wants, etc.
  • Virtual teacher—this is a teacher that teaches students over the internet in a virtual classroom.

Conclusion about the career

In some of the classrooms where there are a lot of disruptions due to the ones who are making noise, asking stupid questions, being annoying etc., things can be tough on a daily basis. There could be fights also in these interracial schools. At times the teacher may feel as if they are the military or police because of all the things that go on in some of these schools. The benefits that a teacher gets can be great but it all depends on the state where they are teaching. One great benefit is the summer vacation that is almost 3 months long that you might be paid for.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics the career of teaching is going to see an increase between the years of 2014-2024, but what the growth rate will be will depend on which grades you are teaching. Since the birth of the internet there are online schools emerging and not just colleges either. There are also online, or virtual, public schools that offer classes from Kindergarten thru 12th grade and in these virtual schools you need teachers. These virtual schools allow the teachers to stay at home and teach students in a virtual classroom. In addition, with a virtual classroom you could live in one state and teach students in another state if your state allows it. You would have to check with the licensing board to see what you are legally able to do.

Gone are the days of horse and wagon and teaching in a one-room school house with children of all ages and in all grades and wondering how you were going to get the supplies to teach. Today books are being phased out and replaced by online books and using Tablets to teach and put work on. It is a good career choice as it offers job security, and a decent salary plus the great hours of working 5 days a week from 8 am to 4 pm although some teachers do bring papers home to grade. There is also the opportunity to teach a different grade in elementary school if you want to have a change of pace. If you love children, want to help nurture their minds, get them to love reading and learning, and watch them mature as the year goes by, then this is the ideal career for you.